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Branch to Tuck: We’ll protect the snake

Deion Branch of the New England Patriots warms

Deion Branch of the New England Patriots warms up before a game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y. (Sept. 25, 2011) Photo Credit: Getty

FOXBORO -- When Justin Tuck’s game plan was relayed inside the Patriots locker room, Deion Branch couldn’t help but laugh.

“I ain’t got no reaction to that,” the New England wide receiver said with a smile. “If that’s the analogy they’re taking, then that’s what it is.”

Lots of interesting catchphrases and slogans have come out of the Timex Performance Center this season, and the latest line from Tuck was this:

“The way to kill a snake is take off his head,” the defensive end told reporters in New York Friday. “The way to kill an offense as potent as that one is, is making sure you take care of Brady.”

Well, it turns out Branch did have a reaction to Tuck’s Perseus-like mission…

“We have to protect our guy, protect the snake,” said the wideout, who wasn’t at all bothered by Tuck’s statement. “That’s Justin; he’s a great player. We truly respect that guy, respect what he’s done for his team. But we can’t worry about that part. We have to worry about what we do.”

But the topic du jour here at Gillette Stadium was the Giants vaunted defense, and more specifically its plethora of pass rushers.

Patriots guard Brian Waters called the Giants defensive line the best in football this season.

Rarely, if ever, do teams use four defensive ends at once on the field to rush the QB, said guard Logan Mankins.

“A lot of teams don’t have the personnel to do that,” he said.

Mankins also had high praise for second-year defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul -- a player, he said, can do things “that other guys can’t do.”

“He’s got the power, the speed, he’s got all of it,” he said of JPP. “So that’s what makes him hard to block.”

Said Branch: “I see him and I stay away from him.”

The wideout also was complimentary of Giants linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka.

“He has the intangibles,” Branch said. “There’s a reason they move him around so much, because he has the ability to make those plays. His speed, his strength, he’s a great player. They have a team full of great players.”

But as good as the Giants pass rush is, the Patriots say they're looking forward to a physical matchup in the Super Bowl.

“It is going to be a big challenge,” said Mankins. “We’re going to have to play our best game of the year, probably the best game of some of our careers.”

And in order to withstand the Giants defensive pressure, Branch said the Patriots will need to exploit every opportunity they're given.

“If we have to sit in and max-protect, that’s what we’re going to do,” he said. “If our front line can handle the guys without max-protecting, that’s what we’ll do as well. It’s all about taking advantage and making adjustments on the sidelines.” 

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